It had been a little over a month since we first went into lockdown and I had barely been out of the house. When I found out that my best friend would be passing the general vicinity of my hometown as she drove home after isolating with her parents, I bubbled with excitement. We hadn’t seen each other for what felt like an eternity. Maybe it was a month. I felt like a high schooler again as I begged my parents to let me go to Safeway and meet up with her. We had been mainly ordering groceries and staying away from public areas in order to avoid the risk of contracting the virus. My mom was iffy about letting me see my friend at first but I finally convinced her.
Equipped with two masks and an 8 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer, I felt prepared to embark on the journey that was a 6-minute drive to the Safeway in my town. I had prepared a playlist for the car and everything. The idea of meeting up with a friend was the first slice of normalcy that I had felt and I wasn’t going to let the moment go to waste by not having an adequate car playlist.
Before I headed out, my mom stopped me at the door. “Sandra, you’re going to have to be strong.” I was confused. “You’re going to want to hug each other but you can’t. No hugs. And stay 6 feet apart.”
“Yes, of course!” I grabbed the doorknob and opened the door.
“You have to remember that. Text her right now to inform her that no hugs will be occurring.”
I pulled out my phone and texted: “about to leave – my mom says NO HUGS. see you soon from 6ft apart!”
I turned the screen of my phone to my mom. “Good?”
She gave me the green light to head out and I rushed to the car. When I arrived, I waited until I saw my friend’s bright blue car enter the empty Safeway parking lot. We rushed out and air hugged. My friend gave me the idea to send my mom a boomerang of us air hugging from many feet apart. My mom enjoyed it.
We walked into Safeway and began to collect our groceries more slowly than how we would have on a normal day. We talked about the monotony of our current lives and how if things were different, we probably would have been enjoying a wine night with friends in Santa Clara consisting of Trader Joe’s Organic Pinot Grigio and karaoke. We discussed how we would have been going on Spring Quarter picnics in SF. Or maybe even eating four cheese pasta at Cheesecake Factory. But instead, we were inside Safeway, in front of the bread aisle, and I felt happy and warm but also empty and gloomy as we talked about how we didn’t know when we would see each other next.
When we were done shopping, we walked back to our cars without hugging, which was the easy part—looking ahead to an indefinite period of no hugs with my best friend made me feel uneasy even though I knew it was necessary to remain safe.